Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Facebook owned WhatsApp might face legal consequences, if fails to provide a satisfactory response till May 25: MeitY

The Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) has directed Facebook-owned WhatsApp to withdraw its updated privacy policy as it undermines the values of informational privacy and data security of Indian citizens. The Central government have given a week’s time to the Instant messaging platform WhatsApp to respond.

The notice by Meity was sent on May 18 that clearly states the deadline as May 25 for Whatsapp to respond. If the government does not receive any satisfactory answer till May 25 then it will initiate an action in consonance with the laws.

Meity’s Notice to WhatsApp:

•The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has directed WhatsApp to withdraw or revise its new privacy policy by the 25th of May 2021.

•WhatsApp has a huge user base in India and many people use this app for their daily communication. Therefore, the reinforcement of sensitive information exposes a very large segment of Indian citizens to greater information security risk and vulnerabilities creating a potential honeypot of information.

•The stated updated privacy policy by WhatsApp is in violation of Indian laws and rule.

– It is not just problematic, but also irresponsible, for WhatsApp to leverage this position to impose unfair terms and conditions on Indian users, particularly those that discriminate against Indian users vis-à-vis users in Europe said the new letter sent to Whatsapp.

This is the 2nd Notice to Whatsapp by Government:

-The new notice to Whatsapp is the second such communication with WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart where the Ministry had underlined concerns over the company’s accept-the-terms-or-leave-the-platform stance for Indian users that did not apply to its European consumers.

– In January 2021, the ministry had written a letter to WhatApp’s CEO Will Cathcart asking him to roll back the newly introduced privacy and policy update.

-The condition of ‘accept-the-terms-or-leave-the-platform’ is for users in India and not applicable for European users was highlighted by the Ministry in its first letter as well.

-In March, the IT ministry through an affidavit to Delhi High Court said that WhatsApp must be barred from rolling out its new privacy policy as it violated several existing IT rules.

-The issue was heard on Monday where WhatsApp informed the High Court that it intended to go ahead with the roll-out of the new privacy policy as planned and the deadline stood as May 15.

-Whatsapp will continue to send reminders to its users who had not yet accepted the terms, to do so.

– Also, eventually, limit the usage of the platform by making some services unavailable to the people who will not accept the terms.

WhatsApp’s response to Ministry’s latest notice:

-WhatsApp is continuing its engagement with the government.

-WhatsApp’s new update “does not impact the privacy of personal messages for anyone. However, the majority of users who have received the new terms of service have accepted them, while some hasn’t done it yet.

-No accounts were deleted on May 15th as that was the last date to accept the updated policy by the users.

-No Indian WhatsApp user lost the functionality of their Apps.

-WhatsApp will continue to follow up with reminders to people over the next several weeks.

Background:

Facebook-owned popular messaging platform Whatsapp had announced its updated policy terms via an in-app notification asking its users to agree to the said terms by February 8 or lose access to their accounts.

-Following a major backlash WhatsApp on January 15 had announced that the updated implementation is moved till May 15.

– WhatsApp that has over 400 million Indian users had come forward to clarify that it is end-to-end encrypted. Therefore, it doesn’t have access to private chats or location etc. The App does it share private messages, data with its owner Facebook. However, the new update will enable WhatsApp to access business conversations hosted with social media for advertising purposes.

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